According to George Packer, Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman is the latest Obamacon. Aside from my paleo complaints about neocons playing both sides and trying to rehabilitate their reputations at the expense of the rest of the right's, something else jumps out from Adelman's endorsement: the usual Obamacon failure to make a substantive or detailed, policy-based argument for Barack Obama. In his e-mail to Packer, Adelman wrote:
Why [am I voting for Obama], since my views align a lot more with McCain's than with Obama's? And since I truly dread the notion of a Democratic president, Democratic House, and hugely Democratic Senate?
Primarily for two reasons, those of temperament and of judgment.
To channel Bob Dole once again, where is the outrage over Christopher Hitchens' endorsement of Barack Obama comparable to the flap caused by Christopher Buckley's? Of course, a longtime left-wing radical's embrace of Obama is less surprising than an endorsement by the son of National Review's founder. But what does that say about many conservatives' embrace of Hitchens in the run-up to the Iraq war?
How is it treasonous disloyalty to support America's ally against America's enemies? Or does Joe Klein suppose that, if Israel had been destroyed in the Yom Kippur war, her conquerors would now be our friends? The real obstacle to Middle East peace is the refusal of Israel's enemies to repudiate their repeated vows to wipe Israel off the map.
Joe Klein seems to suggest that pro-Israel sentiment in the U.S. is due entirely to the influence of American Jews, as if the other 98% of us are supporters of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. And his use of "neoconservative" as a synonym for "Republican Jews" (or "Jewish hawks") is equally misguided, demonstrating a profound misunderstanding of the origins and content of neoconservatism.
Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam have used recent pieces by Peter Berkowitz and Mark Lilla as a jumping-off point for a discussion of neoconservatism. While neoconservatism is frequently described as an ideology -- of democratism, of hard Wilsonian foreign policy, of abstract Americanism -- the early neocons, as both Douthat and Salam point out, were actually a very pragmatic lot. In fact, the neocons were most of associated with another ism: empiricism.